Charlotte Hornets

Clemson or NBA draft? Tigers’ Jaron Blossomgame remains undecided

Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame is undecided on whether he should stay in next month’s NBA draft.
Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame is undecided on whether he should stay in next month’s NBA draft. AP

One way or another, this week will be of big benefit to Clemson junior forward Jaron Blossomgame.

Either he’ll stay in the process, confident he’ll be selected first round or early second in next month’s NBA draft, or he’ll return to Clemson feeling better prepared to be in the 2017 draft.

A 6-foot-7 forward from Alpharetta, Ga., Blossomgame averaged 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds last season. He shot 51 percent from the field and 44 percent from the college 3-point line.

Blossomgame still is undecided whether the stay in the draft or return to the ACC. He’s looking for more feedback before the deadline to pull his name from draft consideration and retain college eligibility.

“Come May 24 I have a big decision to make,” Blossomgame said of the day before the NCAA’s deadline to remove his name. “I feel like this whole week gives me a good opportunity to sit down with a lot of teams face-to-face to get a feel for me.”

Blossomgame says if his draft range is 25-40 (the final six picks of the first round through the first nine of the second), he’s prone to staying in the draft.

“If I’m 40-60 range, I’ll probably go back to school to help prove myself,” Blossomgame said.

He is benefitting from a significant change in NCAA rules. Before, in order to be in the draft, an underclassman had to make an irrevocable decision to give up remaining eligibility shortly after the Final Four.

Under the new system, underclassmen can participate in the combine if they’re invited and hold individual workouts, as Blossomgame already has with the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics.

This helps him make a more informed decision and is a win-win, regardless of what path he takes. At minimum, these rehearsals should make him better prepared for auditions a year from now after his senior season.

“I think it puts the players in power,” Blossomgame said.

“If I had the season I had under the old (NCAA) rules, it would have caused a lot of debating about what I should do. Because then it was come back or go full-blow, and sign with an agent. This gives me the opportunity to work out for teams and get the routine.

“This is really good in a way the other system wasn’t.”

Observations

▪ The Celtics have five second-round picks in this upcoming draft. Hard to picture them exercising all of those. But second-round picks can be handy as a commodity: You can package them in a bigger deal, swap them for a future pick, or sell them as the Hornets occasionally have.

▪ Syracuse forward Malachi Richardson has decided to stay in the draft, according to ESPN.com.

▪ New Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo indicated to NBA.com he’d be open to moving a first-round pick, depending on how the lottery plays out. As Colangelo put it, “We’ll certainly be open for business.”

▪ The draft lottery will be Tuesday night. Considering how few projected lottery picks participated at all in the combine, you wonder if the league needs to tweak the format. That probably would require consent from the players association since the processes generally are governed by the collective-bargaining agreement.

Worth mentioning

▪ The Chicago Bulls have just a 1.8 percent chance at a top-three pick, but keep in mind they lucked into Derrick Rose against similar odds several years ago.

▪ Lots of interest in the Minnesota Timberwolves at the combine. They have a loaded young roster, a lottery pick and new coach Tom Thibodeau.

▪ N.C. State point guard Cat Barber suffered a thigh bruise Thursday that caused him to miss a 5-on-5 game Friday. He is scheduled to work out Monday for the 76ers.

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